An epitome of hard work

Pandurang Phaldesai

Due to the prolonged illness of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, most of the people of Goa were mentally prepared for the sad news of his demise. However it is a fact that none can forget the lifelong dedication of Parrikar towards the all-round development Goa.

Always curious about the activities in the field of art and culture Parrikar openly admitted that he was not related to that field. But who can forget the exemplary efforts he put in making Goa a permanent venue for the International Film Festival of India? It was he, who made it possible to hold the first IFFI in Goa in 2004. Maybe it was his dream, but it became reality only because he was an ardent lover of the arts at the core of his heart. The first IFFI was a wonder for Goans – a wonder because of the imagination of Parrikar. He changed the entire dimension of IFFI and transformed the festival into a spectacular public event that appealed to the common man. Along with the standard schedule of screening national and international films, there were performances pertaining to folk and classical streams arranged in the different localities of capital city. People from every nook and corner of the state came to witness the shows as peripheral activity of IFFI.

Many experts from the film-world were surprised to see a Chief Minister of a state to acknowledge the artist community. In fact, Parrikar made it a point to reach out to the grass root sections of society. It was his sincere efforts to convey to Goans that ‘IFFI is ours’. It was a ceremonious beginning of the IFFI in Goa which continued till date on account of his personal attention to it.

After 26 years of my service in Kala Academy Goa I was promoted to the post of CEO (Member Secretary). It was a fact that the concerned file was being delayed by some bureaucrats with the blessings of a cabinet colleague of Parrikar. However due to the initiative of the CM Parrikar my appointment order was issued in August 2003. When the decision to organise IFFI in Goa was finalised coinciding with my appointment, Parrikar had plans to set up the infrastructure required for the festival. The state government had decided to take up the renovation work of Kala Academy on war footing. As Chief Minister he consulted with the then chairman of Kala Academy, Pratapsingh Rane and assured me all support with the shifting of various departments and faculties of Kala Academy. KA’s department of western music was shifted to the government primary school at Masan do Amori, The School of Drama and Drama Repertory Company and the faculty of Indian music and dance was shifted to Government Polytechnic, Altinho. The heritage building called Santa Casa in the heart of the city was assigned for the administrative wing. In such a situation he advised us to adjust without disturbing the routine performances and activities of Kala Academy.

The upgradation of the infrastructural facilities of Kala Academy matched the expectations of the technical team of IFFI. Parrikar used to pay frequent visits to Kala Academy to take stock of the developmental work. I sincerely felt that he was an ardent lover of art and culture. He never discouraged any artists. In spite of his busy schedule he made it a point to attend various concerts, art events, exhibitions and drama shows that inspired all the artists.

As the Chief Minister and Finance Minister he ensured sufficient budget allocation to Kala Academy. He was a highly educated technocrat and a kind, down-to-earth man who respected every culture. He preferred to speak to people in their own language – Konkani. He showed his love and commitment towards the language by presenting the budget in Konkani at the Goa Legislative Assembly.

I pay my respect and homage to Manohar Parrikar – the epitome of hard work, dedication and love towards the mother tongue.